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Sunwest Screen Graphics leaves its mark

By By Kate Swanson

Winner of Polaris’ Lean Supplier of the Year Award offers custom decals

Gone are the days of cheesy bumper stickers and do-it-yourself paint jobs. Sunwest Screen Graphics, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, provides high-quality screen-printed decals for use on a wide range of equipment, including powersports and construction vehicles.

Sunwest has been around for more than 35 years; originally it began making posters and doing local jobs. From there, Sunwest made OEM contacts with businesses in Canada and the U.S., building up to the company it is today.

Sunwest now works with large OEMs on a global scale, with the highest concentration in North America. “Our niche, or our ideal customers, are large complex OEMs with varying degrees of complexity and difficulty in their products,” said Sunwest account manager Jordan Hayward. Sunwest is up for the challenge, especially in a market that it constantly adapting.

Hayward has seen firsthand how the business has changed. “The complexity of decals is changing. They started out very simple. Now, they’ve gotten more complex with multiple colors, finishes and special effects,” he said.

Jordan Hayward, account manager of Sunwest Screen Graphics, has seen the Canadian company’s screen-printed decal business for OEMs benefit from lean manufacturing practices.

Jordan Hayward, account manager of Sunwest Screen Graphics, has seen the Canadian company’s screen-printed decal business for OEMs benefit from lean manufacturing practices.

Sunwest offers effects like 3DFx Domed Decals — printed decals with a liquid coated lens that create a unique 3D look — for product markings and decals alike. In addition to 3D offerings, Sunwest carries other options, like Sunbrush Low Profile Decals. This option highlights the look and feel of custom airbrushed graphics without the custom price, Hayward said.

Since 2004, Sunwest has seen changes not only in its product, but also with its internal processes. With the introduction of lean manufacturing, Sunwest set off to reduce time on two major production components: cycle time and set up.

“With screen printing there’s a lot of setup involved. Once you do all of your setups for one color, you want to get the economies to scale and run as much as you can. Lean manufacturing turned that on its head, saying the more you can reduce that setup time, the more cost effective you can be to make those changes to respond to customer demand,” Hayward said. “Now we can set up a job, then tear it down right away, and then set up the next job. It reduces our inventory and obsolescence to our customers.”

While there is competition in the marketplace, Sunwest has been able to stay in the game, earning Polaris’ Lean Supplier of the Year Award in regards to its lean manufacturing practices and final product. Sunwest has had a contract with Polaris for more than 20 years and takes pride in being able to meet customers’ specific needs.

“Sometimes decals are the last thing on people’s minds,” said Hayward. “But, a 10-cent decal could stop an ATV or motorcycle from being able to be shipped, so there tend to be a lot of rushes. We are able to accommodate those because of lean manufacturing.”

Manufacturing aside, Hayward agreed that where Sunwest really stands out is in its customer service. With a company of about 190 people based in Canada, Sunwest is able to lead in the competitive environment. “We’re able to work with these industry leaders because of our customer service, our ability to be flexible and our ability to supply customers with what they need whenever they need it,” he added.

Sunwest’s ability to supply quick turnarounds for its customers separates them. The key to success is being flexible and anticipating customers’ needs. “Being reactive,” said Hayward. “Our answer is always ‘Yes. Now what’s the question?’ Tell us when you want it, and it’ll be there.”

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